381. RICHARD YEOMAN.
The story and cruel handling of Richard Yeoman, Doctor Taylor's curate at Hadley, constantly suffering for the gospel's sake, July the tenth.
After the story of these twenty-two taken at Islington, proceeding now, (the Lord willing,) we will prosecute likewise the taking and cruel handling of Richard Yeoman, minister; which Yeoman had been, before, Dr. Taylor's curate, a godly devout old man of seventy years, which had many years dwelt in Hadley, well seen in the Scriptures, and giving godly exhortations to the people. With him Dr. Taylor left his cure at his departure: but as soon as Master Newall had gotten the benefice, he drove away good Yeoman, as is before said, and set in a popish curate to maintain and continue their Romish religion, which now they thought fully stablished. Then wandered he long time from place to place, moving and exhorting all men to stand faithfully by God's word, earnestly to give themselves unto prayer, with patience to bear the cross now laid upon them for their trial, with boldness to confess the truth before the adversaries, and with an undoubted hope to wait for the crown and reward of eternal felicity. But when he perceived his adversaries to lie in wait for him, he went into Kent, and with a little packet of laces, pins, and points, and such-like things, he travelled from village to village, selling such things; and by that poor shift got himself somewhat to the sustaining of himself, his poor wife, and children.
At the last a justice of Kent, called Master Moyle, took poor Yeoman, and set him in the stocks a day and a night; but having no evident matter to charge him with, he let him go again. So came he secretly again to Hadley, and tarried with his poor wife, who kept him secretly in a chamber of the town house, commonly called the Guildhall, more than a year; all the which time the good old father abode in a chamber, locked up all the day, and spent his time in devout prayer, and reading the Scriptures, and in carding of wool, which his wife did spin. His wife also did go and beg bread and meat for herself and her children, and by such poor means sustained they themselves. Thus the saints of God sustained hunger and misery, while the prophets of Baal lived in jollity, and were costly pampered at Jezebel's table.
At the last parson Newall (I know not by what means) perceived that Richard Yeoman was so kept by his poor wife, and, taking with him the bailiff's deputies and servants, came in the night-time, and brake up five doors upon Yeoman, whom he found in a bed with his poor wife and children: whom when he had so found, he irefully cried, saying, "I thought I should find a harlot and a whore together." And he would have plucked the clothes off from them; but Yeoman held fast the clothes, and said unto his wife, "Wife, arise, and put on thy clothes." And unto the parson he said, "Nay, parson, no harlot, nor whore, but a married man and his wife, according unto God's ordinance; and blessed be God for lawful matrimony. I thank God for this great grace, and I defy the pope and all his popery." Then led they Richard Yeoman unto the cage, and set him in the stocks until it was day.
There was then also in the cage an old man named John Dale, who had sitten there three or four days, because when the said parson Newall with his curate executed the Romish service in the church, he spake openly unto him, and said, "O miserable and blind guides, will ye ever be blind leaders of the blind? will ye never amend? will ye never see the truth of God's word? will neither God's threats nor promises enter into your hearts? will the blood of martyrs nothing mollify your stony stomach? O indurate, hard-hearted, perverse, and crooked generation! O damnable sort, whom nothing can do good unto!"
These and like words he spake in ferventness of spirit against the superstitious religion of Rome. Wherefore, parson Newall caused him forthwith to be attached, and set in the stocks in the cage. So was he there kept till Sir Henry Doyle, a justice, came to Hadley.
Now when poor Yeoman was taken, the parson called earnestly upon Sir Henry Doyle to send them both to prison. Sir Henry Doyle earnestly laboured and entreated the parson, to consider the age of the men, and their poor estate; they were persons of no reputation, nor preachers; wherefore he would desire him to let them be punished a day or two, and so to let them go -- at the least John Dale, who was no priest; and therefore, seeing he had so long sitten in the cage, he thought it punishment enough for this time. When the parson heard this, he was exceeding mad, and in a great rage called them pestilent heretics, unfit to live in the commonwealth of Christians. "Wherefore, I beseech you, sir," quoth he, "according to your office, defend holy church, and help to suppress these sects of heresies which are false to God, and thus boldly set themselves, to the evil example of others, against the queen's gracious proceedings." Sir Henry Doyle, seeing he could do no good in the matter, and fearing also his peril, if he should too much meddle in this matter, made out the writ, and caused the constables to carry them forth to Bury gaol. For now were all the justices, were they never so mighty, afraid of every shaven crown, and stood in as much awe of them, as Pilate did stand in fear of Annas and Caiaphas, and of the Pharisaical brood, which cried, Crucify him, Crucify him! If thou let him go, thou art not Cæsar's friend. Wherefore, whatsoever their consciences were, yet, if they would escape danger, they must needs be the popish bishop's slaves and vassals. So they took Richard Yeoman and John Dale, pinioned; and bound them like thieves, set them on horseback, and bound their legs under the horses' bellies, and so carried them to the gaol at Bury, where they were tied in irons; and for that they continually rebuked popery, they were thrown into the lowest dungeon, where John Dale, through sickness of the prison, and evil keeping, died in prison, whose body, when he was dead, was thrown out and buried in the fields. He was a man of forty-six years of age, a weaver by his occupation, well learned in the Holy Scriptures, faithful and honest in all his conversation, stedfast in confession of the true doctrine of Christ set forth in King Edward's time; for the which he joyfully suffered prison and chains, and from this worldly dungeon he departed in Christ to eternal glory, and the blessed paradise of everlasting felicity.
After that John Dale was dead, Richard Yeoman was removed to Norwich prison, where, after strait and evil keeping, he was examined of his faith and religion. Then he boldly and constantly confessed himself to be of the faith and confession that was set forth by the late king of blessed memory, holy King Edward the Sixth; and from that he would in no wise vary. Being required to submit himself to the holy father the pope, "I defy him," quoth he, "and all his detestable abominations: I will in no wise have to do with him, nor any thing that appertaineth to him." The chief articles objected to him, were his marriage, and the mass sacrifice.
Wherefore when he continued stedfast in confession of the truth, he was condemned, degraded, and not only burnt, but most cruelly tormented in the fire. So ended he his poor and miserable life, and entered into the blessed bosom of Abraham, enjoying with Lazarus the comfortable quietness that God hath prepared for his elect saints.